Monday, November 29, 2021

U welcomes former Notre Dame president

September 25, 2000

There was more than the excitement of a legendary rivalry in the air Friday as players and fans prepared for a contest between the Spartans and the Fighting Irish.

In a Kellogg Center banquet room, officials gathered to celebrate the connection between MSU and the University of Notre Dame. More than 100 faculty and administrators welcomed the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987.

“I think it’s nice that football isn’t just a enjoyable game to watch, but it has also been an occasion of a much deeper bond between us,” Hesburgh said.

Hesburgh, the longest tenured president of any American college or university, played an important role in helping MSU enter the Big Ten in 1948.

MSU President M. Peter McPherson worked with Hesburgh in 1983 to develop strategies to treat children with dysentery in developing countries. McPherson said Hesburgh is a longtime friend who he has often consulted for advice.

“He is a man that I greatly admire and he has made a great difference in the world,” McPherson said. “When I think of leadership, civil rights and leadership in developing countries, I think of him. He has made a real difference in the world.”

McPherson noted another friendship as well - the one between Hesburgh and legendary former MSU President John Hannah.

“We at MSU remember John Hannah, who at one time was also the chair of the Civil Rights Commission,” McPherson said. “His vice chair and absolute companion was Father Hesburgh.”

During his speech, Hesburgh recounted working with Hannah on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“I loved John Hannah and we went through some tough times together,” he said. “My time with John Hannah was the most exciting time of my life. We literally made history.”

Provost Lou Anna Simon, who attended the reception, credited Hesburgh for helping to make MSU what it is today.

“He is a very important linkage back to a time when MSU, through the friendship of Father Hesburgh and John Hannah, was in its building years,” she said. “He played a role in setting MSU on a positive academic trajectory.”

Music therapy senior Patrick Hannah, John Hannah’s grandson, also welcomed Hesburgh to campus.

“I just met him and I hope that I get to talk to him some more,” Hannah said. “He’s a phenomenal person and it’s quite an honor to meet him.”

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